Castleisland, Its Fountain and Its Face-Lift

Castleisland’s best known landmark after its recent makeover. Photograph: John Keane.

It’s as iconically Castleisland as The Market House which provides its majestic backdrop.
It’s been a meeting place, a dáil and a vital source of drinkable water since it was built in the 19th century.
The blasting of the bedrock for its foundation broke panes of glass in houses in its neighbourhood and it caused the collapse of a wing of a local business premises.
Chairman John
Local electrical contractor, John Keane is the relatively new chairman of the Castleisland Tidy Towns committee and he looked upon our icon of historical importance and decided it needed a facelift.
“Recently as part of the Tidy Towns project I researched the history of ‘The Fountain’ and with the help of Mike Lynch, archivist from Kerry County Council and the only information we found were two letters below printed in The Kerry Evening Post,” said John.
Built In The Mid 1800s
“We are assuming that the fountain was built in 1847/48 as both clean drinking water and employment was needed immediately after the famine to help families survive.
“The fountain was initially fed from three springs which gave a constant supply of water up to approximately 10 years ago.
Safe To Drink
“Irish water has confirmed that the water is safe to drink. If you feel that plastic water bottles are damaging to the environment why not get a reusable water bottle and refill at the fountain.
“We decided that such an important piece of history should be cleaned up so it was steam washed by another Mike Lynch of Island Hoists and sponsored by a local person,”
The Late Anthony Cronin
It was a dogged and sustained campaign by the late Latin Quarter resident Anthony Cronin which get the fountain flowing again in 2009 after many years of drought.
The mains water was delivered to a new tap by then Cllr. Danny Healy Rae during the replacement of old pipes at the Market Cross at the time.
The Market Bar and The Half One
As a barman, my father often stood in for Monny McGillicuddy in The Market Bar and one of Monny’s abiding habits was filling the whiskey jugs on the counter with fountain water for those who liked the ‘half one’ for a start.
In my father’s collection of writings I found the following tribute to the fountain and to those who looked after it down through the years and John Keane can now be included in the list of Islanders who did just that.

The Fountain

By Micheal Reidy

In Castleisland’s Market Square
There stands a landmark rich and rare,
In beauty far beyond compare,
Our own beloved Fountain.

It stands a sentinel of old
It’s ever-flowing sweet and cold
In summer days it’s liquid gold
The water of the Fountain.

A place where posters were displayed,
A stand for sign-posts it was made,
And every horse that ever strayed
Was anchored to the Fountain.

But many’s the romantic tale
Of boy and girl with jug and pail
Who were to join at Altar’s rail
Through meeting at the Fountain.

And so it served, a willing slave
Ignored, except for what it gave,
But all began to rant and rave
The day they lost the Fountain.

Some men of wisdom paid their rounds,
The Council uttered dreadful sounds
They said, “’Twill take a fortune now
To rectify your Fountain”.

But ‘Island men were not outdone
Though many feared, “’Twill be no fun”,
A braver few explored the run
That used to feed the Fountain.

And just like Moses with his rod
We thought of him, inspired by God,
And prayed that He might only nod,
And so, restore the Fountain.

Yes! Miracles can happen still,
There’s always way where there is will,
For swiftly water, pure and chill,
Came gushing from the Fountain.

To all concerned thanks and praise,
To Tom and Jim, the men who raised
To glory of its former days
Our own beloved Fountain.

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